When tailoring programs at corporate wellness centers, the question arises: What can be offered to individuals who have chronic illnesses? Here is an outline of ways to help corporate wellness clients manage chronic illnesses in the workplace:
- Host a health fair or health expo. Bring in representatives from various organizations to your workplace. Making information easily accessible by having several booths of resources makes employees more likely to seek out information. Think of local companies, but also include larger organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association. Invite representatives from larger hospitals to offer screenings at the health fair, including cholesterol, blood sugar, bone density, and aortic artery screenings.
- Start resource groups. My corporate health promotion staff recently organized a group called the Cancer and Chronic Conditions Resource Network. Led by three key people who themselves have had past diagnoses of cancer, the group began by personally inviting people on our company’s campus who had been affected by a chronic illness themselves, or who were primary caretakers of loved ones with such ailments. Be sure to stress the resource component of these groups in the naming, rather than calling it a "support group" or "care group," since those might be less appealing in a corporate setting.
- Host information sessions over lunch. Pinpoint certain diseases or chronic ailments that affect a significant population of your company. Then look into monthly or quarterly Lunch and Learns on such topics. Remember to include ailments that are less severe but perhaps more common, such as migraines or sleep disorders.
- Find ways your company can partner with other organizations. The American Cancer Society, in particular, has phenomenal resources specifically designed for use in corporate settings and to aid you, as the health delivery specialist.
Above all, take it upon yourself to understand these illnesses. You don’t have to know scientific details about each disease or condition, but become familiar with the most pressing needs and concerns of these individuals to take your corporate health promotion above and beyond customer service.